It’s hard not to get excited and launch straight into building a new product. Whether it’s an app or a cool new device, too often important questions are overlooked.
Who is my product really for?
Do they want it?
Is there value in this product?
The majority of startups fail because there is either no market need for it or because they ran out of cash during development. So how can we avoid this?
We build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). An MVP is a product with only its core essential features enough to prove if your product is viable. In fact, an MVP doesn’t even have to be a product at all! It can be a mailing list, a video trailer, or even a Facebook group.
It’s then tested on the market to see if it has the potential to succeed. You can promote your idea, test potential demand for your product, reduce cost, and gain valuable insight.
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
– Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn
Remember, products we can’t live without like Facebook or Twitter came from humble beginnings. Look at twitter’s homepage in 2004… look at it!
Now, let’s take a journey through some very interesting and inventive MVPs of products that we know as successful fully realised products today.
Zappos is an online clothing retailer with $2 billion in annual revenue. Amazon bought them for 1.2 billion in 2009.
I love the Zappos MVP, it’s so creative and ‘dirty’. In 1999 Nick Swinmurn, frustrated with his inability to find a pair of shoes he wanted at his local mall, came up with the idea of selling shoes online (remember this is 1999). He didn’t want to invest in an idea without testing it, and he didn’t want to spend thousands buying an inventory of shoes.
So what did he do? He grabbed a camera and went down to his local mall and took pictures of shoes on sale. He posted them on a simple online store he made. When someone bought a pair of shoes, he would run down to the mall, buy the shoes and ship them off to the buyer. Before he knew it, he was selling more shoes than he could handle. This proved his idea. This is a great MVP.
Dropbox syncs your files across all your devices. If you upload a file to your Dropbox folder on your computer, you can then access the same file across your other devices.
Drew Houston founded Dropbox in 2007, file syncing was a problem he faced intimately, and suspected others faced as well.
He built an early prototype, but it was in no way ready for launch. He wanted to make sure others shared his frustration so he recorded a video of his prototype, demonstrating its main features and use cases. Essentially, he created a video for a product that really didn’t exist yet to gauge interest. He asked people to join a waiting list to help test his beta version of the product, he managed to get almost 100,000 emails in a couple of days.
Here’s a link to that video.
So in conclusion, save yourself some time and money. Test the market with an MVP.
If you need help developing an idea or an MVP, get in touch.